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Free Footage For The People – Pond5's Public Domain Project

This past Saturday we had the privelage to attend the launch of Pond5’s Public Domain Project, a “collection of over 80,000 public domain assets” that were difficult to access before now. We spoke with Pon5’s Byba Sepit and Jared Van Fleet about how the project got started, and Pond5’s intentions for it moving forward.

Before Pond5’s Public Domain, the footage they’ve amassed could only be found in places such as the National Archives or library of congress, and has since lapsed into the public domain. Pond5 has spent some time collecting, “digitizng”, cutting, and enhancing this classic footage to be made available for free on their site. These clips run the gamut from old World War II footage to famous classic pieces from Charlie Chaplin, granting access to not just your usual stock footage, but actual pieces of art, music, historical speeches, and more. Now they’re available through pond5 in HD, as well as 4K.

Now, when you hear something is free these days, there’s usually some fine print attached. It’s just a ploy to get you trapped into paying for something. In this case however, free means free. For our interview above, we intercut a number of clips downloaded directly from Public Domain, all completely free.

Pond5 also does not make light of what they’ve done. They admit they’ve upset a few people in releasing this footage for free, from content creators to archivists who get paid to keep and upgrade the footage that’s now available for download. However they also quickly recognize the hard work people have done in the past to archive this kind of footage. Only now, Pond5 has absorbed the cost and time to present it to the thousands upon thousands of people who would have never been able to have access to such footage.

You can check out all of the footage in Pond5’s Public Domain at

Written by Jake Fruia

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